Jack Strode loved the big city. He loved the bright lights and the popular attractions and the streets filled with people and high-profile restaurants.
Yet, he loved Miller Beach more.
A Chicago restaurant management veteran and the third generation of his family to grow up playing along the sandy shores of Miller Beach and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Strode recently packed up his young family’s Chicago condo and made the decision to make Northwest Indiana his home, and revitalize a restaurant which has remained dear to his heart. “My grandma lived on Miller Beach, so it’s played a role my entire life,” says Strode, owner/general manager of the brand new Miller Bakery Café. “My mom also owns a cottage here, so I had a very personal interest in establishing a life here.”
Together with executive chef and LaPorte resident Cheryl Bernacchi, Strode says he has been able to make both his personal and professional dreams come true with the opening of Miller Bakery Café. “It’s always been my dream to own my own place that offered great service alongside great food,” says Strode, who has managed Chicago restaurants such as Smith and Wollensky, Rosebud Prime and the Cheesecake Factory. “Once we found our talented chef, it was icing on the cake.”
Offering dishes such as Chili Glazed Salmon with Israeli Couscous and Cavatappi Pasta with House-Made Sausage, Miller Bakery Café is sure to become a quick favorite. Indeed, the culinary expertise of Bernacchi is sure to take this restaurant to a renewed popularity. “I have been cooking since I was little,” says Bernacchi, who previously owned and served as Executive Chef of Sauté in La Porte. “My mom and aunt owned a catering company, so I was always finding a way to get involved. My favorite vision in the kitchen was a bowl of garden fresh vegetables to make spaghetti with.”
These days, Bernacchi says she looks to build on these early culinary memories to create an interesting and exciting menu for the guests of Miller Bakery Café. “The Midwest is close to my heart, so I love having the chance to bring the most popular trends in dishes here,” she says. “Miller Bakery Café will offer a traditional way of dining, but provide new trends to the comfort foods we all grew up with. Most importantly, these dishes are going to be affordable, which is something I am very proud to offer.”
Resurrecting the much loved Miller Bakery Café is indeed a labor of love for Strode, who looks forward to sharing new elements of the restaurant with both returning and new diners. “We have really enjoyed brightening up the place,” says Strode. “We have added white tablecloths, more natural light, and local artwork on the walls. The inside of the restaurant now has a really warm feeling that we can’t wait to share with our customers.”
“Cooking is my whole life,” adds Bernacchi. “I honestly don’t feel like it’s a job. This restaurant is now close to my heart and I can’t wait to share it with the entire community.”